Jan. 18, 2018
This season marks the 25th anniversary of that team that went 13-3 in the ACC, defeating four ranked opponents in its run to the regular-season championship. They won nine of their final 10 games to wrap-up their second-straight ACC regular season title.
In the ACC tournament down in Rock Hill, South Carolina, they started things with a dominant 74-46 win over Wake Forest. That set up a matchup with Clemson, who UVA has split two meetings with in the regular season. Twins Heidi and Heather Burge combined for 36 points and 21 rebounds to help Virginia top Clemson 79-71 in overtime. The Cavaliers never trailed in overtime, with Jenny Boucek scoring a layup to put Virginia ahead 70-68.
The win set up a championship game against Maryland. The Cavaliers and the Terps had split the two regular season meetings as well, so everyone knew this was going to be a great match-up, but no one expected how legendary it would be.
This showdown has been voted to be one of the top moments in the history of ACC women’s basketball as it took three overtimes before the Cavaliers topped the Terrapins to win the title. Dena Evans was named the MVP of the tournament after playing 55 minutes and scoring 19 points, including hitting the game-tying three-pointer with 12 seconds remaining in regulation. Evans would also grab a rebound of an intentionally missed free throw shot and nail a jumper with 16 seconds remaining in the first overtime to tie it once again.
Virginia took the lead in the second overtime, 87-84 on a driving back shot by forward Amy Lofstedt. Evans would convert four free throws down the stretch to put the Cavaliers ahead 91-88 with eight seconds remaining. Maryland would hit two three-pointers around free throws by Evans to send it to the deciding third overtime.
The game saw the emergence of first year center Jeffra Gausepohl, who was called on after the Burge twins both fouled out. Gausepohl scored 14 of her 15 points in the three overtime periods, including 9-of-11 free throws.
Dena, who was named the Naismith Player of the Year for most outstanding player under 5-foot-6 that year, was just one of the phenomenal players on that team. She was also named to the All-ACC team and earned two player of the week honors that season.
Heather Burge earned Kodak District All-American honors, setting the single-season record for field goal percentage. Heather was awarded the ACC Player of the Year and first team All-ACC.
Jenny Boucek was named to the ACC All-Tournament team alongside, Dena and Heather. Wendy Palmer, a future two-time All-American by multiple outlets, was an ACC-All Freshman Team selection, and three-time rookie of the week.
Wendy, Dena, Heather and Jenny would each later be named ACC legends.
Head coach Debbie Ryan, who as a seven-time ACC Coach of the Year, earned her fifth honor that season.